Marriage of the Dead

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MARCO POLO narrates of the Tartar tribes thus:—“They have another notable custom, which is this. If any man have a daughter who dies before marriage, and another man have had a son also die before marriage, the parents of the two arrange a grand wedding between the dead lad and lass. And marry them they do, making a regular contract! And when the contract papers are made out they put them in the fire in older that the parties in the other world may know the fact, and so look on each other as man and wife. And the parents thenceforward consider themselves sib to each other just as if their children had lived and married. Whatever may be agreed on between the parties as dowry, those who have to pay it cause to be painted on pieces of paper, and then put these in the fire, saying that in that way the dead person will get all the real articles in the other world” (Yule, “Book of Ser Marco Polo,” 2nd ed., vol. i. pp. 259–260). On this narration of Polo, the late Colonel Yule, quoting the authors of later date, remarks that “this is a Chinese custom, though no doubt we may trust Marco for its being a Tartar one also” (p. 260).

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MINAKATA, K. Marriage of the Dead. Nature 55, 224–225 (1897) doi:10.1038/055224c0

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